The paradigm of the home invasion subgenre of horror, The Strangers, was released on this day back in 2008. While many came before and since nothing has been as singularly focused and terrifying. In an era when genre fans expected twists and exposition, The Stranger broke the mold by offering nothing in the form of an explanation for the violence portrayed. It’s summed up succinctly in the exchange:
“Why are you doing this?”
“Because you were home.”
It would be a decade before fans got the sequel we were begging for, and though The Strangers: Prey at Night didn’t strike quite the same chord, a 1980s-era aesthetic and soundtrack made for a thrilling repackaging of established tropes. Many are hoping The Strangers saga will continue in a third installment.
The Stranger is written and directed by Bryan Bertino and stars Scott Speedman, Liv Tyler, and Gemma Ward. If it’s been a while, or if you’ve never experienced The Strangers for yourself, check out the trailer and synopsis below.
Kristen (Liv Tyler) and James (Scott Speedman) are expecting a relaxing weekend at a family vacation home, but their stay turns out to be anything but peaceful. First, a mysterious and dangerous woman arrives at the door while James is out on an errand. When he returns, he accidentally kills his friend Mike (Glenn Howerton), mistaking him for an intruder. And then real danger does show up — in the form of three masked torturers, leaving Kristen and James struggling for survival.
According to director Bryan Bertino, the film is partially based on an incident he experienced as a child. One evening a stranger came to his door, asked for someone who was not there, and left. Later, Bertino found out that other homes in his neighborhood had been broken into that night. (Source)
The song “Mama Tried,” which is heard several times during the film, is a 1968 hit by Merle Haggard and the Strangers. (Source)